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Full text of "NightRider"

gentleness. And then it came to him that all he knew was
the blackness into which he stared and the swinging motion
and the beat of the blood. But was he staring into black-
ness, a blackness external to him and circumambient, or was
he the blackness, his own head of terrific circumference em-
bracing, enclosing, defining the blackness, and the effort of
staring into the blackness a staring inward into himself, into
his own head which enclosed the blackness and everything?
And enclosed the snow that gently fell in darkness.

When he leaned over to untie and remove his shoes, the
beating in his head grew more powerful, and accelerated until
the separate beats merged into a pervasive, pulsing roar. He
was aware of his hands doing their work, but aware as one
is of a thought, not as of a fact of the body. Finishing, he
straightened up, and the roaring ceased. Suddenly, as though
by contrast, there was silence. Then he knew again the
beating of the blood, but gently now, and more retarded.
And then he was aware of another sound, scarcely audible,
another rhythm. It was the breathing of May. He thought
that he must be standing near the bed, and tried to recall
its position in the room. Yes, near the door.

He concentrated on that sound, straining in the darkness,
and it seemed to become more pronounced. He tried to
imagine her lying there, her posture, the expression on her
face, remote and rapt, but could not. The image would not
stick in his mind. It would flicker and be gone. But the
almost inaudible breathing, that was steady, was real, was
everything. Anonymous, nameless in the dark, it was the
focus of the dark. There was nothing else.

There was a stirring from the bed. "Perse?" May's voice
said, questioningly, heavy with sleep.

For a moment he did not answer. He felt cheated, angry,
despairing, as one from whom revelation has been snatched
tway. "Yes," he managed to say. His desire had left him.

When morning came, the snow lay evenly over the fields.
Tfee morning was unusually cold, and unusually bright. The